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BLOGWORDS – Thursday 5 September 2019 – CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – MIKAL DAWN – GIVEAWAY WINNER

CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – MIKAL DAWN – GIVEAWAY WINNER

“Faith. Fun. Forever.”

 

“When I was younger, I used to think that joy was all about feeling happy, having fun, and laughing a lot. It is that, but it’s more than that when we invite God into things.”

 

WINNER! WINNER!

 

Congratulations to

JODI HASSEL

Mikal will be in touch with you to send your gift!

Thanks to everyone who entered!

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mikal Dawn is an inspirational romance author, wedding enthusiast, and proud military wife. By day, she works as an administrative assistant for an international ministry, serves in her church’s library, runs her kids to all their sports, and drinks lots of coffee. By night, she talks to figments of her imagination as she attempts to write while dinner is burning. And drinks lots of coffee. When she isn’t writing about faith, fun, and forever, she is obsessively scouring Pinterest (with coffee in hand, of course!) for wedding ideas for her characters.

Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Mikal now lives in Oklahoma with her husband, two of their three children, and one ferocious feline.

 

https://mikaldawn.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Mikal-Dawn/e/B071NGN8D5

https://www.facebook.com/mikaldawnauthor/

https://twitter.com/MikalDawn/

https://www.instagram.com/mikaldawn/

https://www.pinterest.com/mikal_dawn/

 

“Enter the Psalms. They refocus me, give me hope, peace. They give me joy. I think more on the Lord. I speak with Him more. I’m more relaxed and less irritable.”

GIVEAWAY

Mikal is offering an e-copy of Once Upon a Christmas Collection.

 

#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Mikal Dawn, Giveaway Winner, #WINNER

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BLOGWORDS – Thursday 29 August 2019 – CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY – MIKAL DAWN

 

CHAT THURSDAY and GIVEAWAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – MIKAL DAWN

“Faith. Fun. Forever.”

 

“When I was younger, I used to think that joy was all about feeling happy, having fun, and laughing a lot. It is that, but it’s more than that when we invite God into things.”

 

Please join me in giving a feathered welcome to Mikal Dawn.

FAST FAVES

Cake or Cookies 

Oh…neither!! I don’t mind cake, so I guess I should answer that, but unless it has whipped cream icing, I’m not the biggest fan. And cookies? Well…the only ones I truly like are shortbread. DON’T HATE!

Call or Text 

Definitely text! It drives my husband nuts, which makes it that much more fun to be a text-only girl. Haha!

Dogs or Cats 

This one might get me in trouble, but CATS! I adore cats. You know the cartoon girl who is always, “I’m gonna love you and hug you and squish you”? Yep. That’s me with cats. Especially when they’re fluffy cats.

Eggs or Pancakes 

Now this one’s tough! Both! But if you’re going to make me choose (not fair, Robin!), then pancakes.

Facebook or Twitter

Oh, Facebook for sure. I talk too much to use Twitter.

Paperback or Kindle

Eep! Kindle. But if a book I’ve read is a favorite on Kindle, I buy the paperback!

Thornton or Darcy 

How about Fulke Wynland from Tamara Leigh’s Dreamspell? Hello.

Yoga Pants or Jeans 

Yoga pants!!!!!! And leggings. But no leggings in public. Yoga pants, however? ALL. DAY. LONG.

 

rem:  First of all, I love shortbread cookies…

Hullo, Mikal, and welcome to my little nest. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

MIKAL :  I was actually born in a small city a half-hour from downtown Vancouver called Maple Ridge, in British Columbia. I lived there until I married my husband when I was 30. From there I immigrated to the US (Georgia) and have since lived in Virginia, Nebraska, and now live in Central Oklahoma. I got my degree in Business Administration from Liberty University, and work for Fellowship of Christian Athletes as a part-time Admin. I actually worked for the local field office while living in Omaha, and we couldn’t bear to part ways, so I now work for them remotely. I love it! I also volunteer as an admin for our church, serve on the Board for my daughter’s figure skating club, and am hoping to start volunteering for a crisis pregnancy center soon.

My husband and I have been married for 13.5 years and have three kids: Ethan, who married his wife, Ashlyn, in 2018, Van, and Elliette, both of whom are in grade 5. And of course, His Royal Fluffiness, our cat, Leo Tolstoy.

rem:  Love the kitty name! (I, too, have a fondness for felines.) Tell us three random things about yourself no one knows.

MIKAL :  Hoh boy! Ha!
1. I write rom-com, but when I’m stuck, I find writing a murder scene shakes things up and I can write humour again. (It sounds way worse than it is, I promise!)

  1. I can impersonate Goofy’s laugh pretty well. I don’t know why, but I can.
  2. You may or may not find me binging on Judge Judy. Hey! She’s funny!

rem:  Judge Judy is a HOOT!!! And I would not want to appear before her in court!  Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

MIKAL :  I have several, but two of my favourites are Romans 8:38-39 – For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.and Psalm 107:13-14 – Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains.  I’d write them out, but it’s more fun for you to go search them out. ❤

rem:  Romans is probably my favorite book of the Bible—I keep going back to it over and over, and it is heavily highlighted!  What is your favourite quotation and why?

MIKAL :  Oh, come on! (rem: muwahahahah)  That’s a hard choice!!! So I’ll give you a few: “Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.” (Charles Dickens), “For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson), “I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.” (Abraham Lincoln), and finally, “You can’t make footprints in the sands of time by just sitting on your butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?” (Bob Moawad).

rem:  Those are all gems! But (see what I did there???) I especially like the one with the buttprints! What’s the most random thing in your bag or on your desk?

MIKAL : I have kids. There have been SO many random things! LOL! Just yesterday, I had a towel in my purse (to dry skate blades so they don’t rust) and an aerosol can of silver glitter hair spray. What can I say? It was competition day. 😉 Other times, I’ve found gross items kids will stick somewhere so they don’t litter. I won’t go into detail. *shudder*

rem:  Um, yeah, EWWWW…. (I have kids, all grown now, but I know. I know.)  If you could spend an evening with a fictional character, who would it be and why?

MIKAL :  Oh good gravy! This is another tough one. There are so many. Definitely Fulke Wynland. Because, well, Fulke. And then definitely Cole “Tox” Russell from Ronie Kendig’s The Tox Files series. It would be an action-packed evening!

 

rem:  Seriously, I’mma have to check this Fulke guy out! What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

MIKAL :  Christian fiction has had a major impact on me in so many ways, both as a reader and a writer. Besides being clean and trustworthy fiction you can read, it allows you to examine yourself and others through the eyes of characters similar to you, or experiencing the same things you are. You gain a different, often eternal, perspective on what you may be going through. It has also taught me empathy and how to respond to different situations that the people around me might be facing.

As for my relationship with Christ, well…writing isn’t easy. It requires a lot of trust in Christ, to be honest. I often feel like an imposter in the writing world, (rem: me too!)  so I need to trust that He gave me a calling and has equipped me to fulfill that calling. He’s drawing me closer to Him through His Word and prayer, both in my personal walk and every time I sit down to write. He’s so gracious and loving!

rem:  It’s amazing, isn’t it, how our writing intertwines with our faith, each making the other stronger.  When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

MIKAL :  I’m very much a dialogue-driven person, so flowery prose, description that is too detailed, all of that will take me out of a story. If the pacing is slow, I have a very hard time finishing a book, whether I’m reading it or listening to it (big fan of audiobooks here!). I don’t know if I actually have a fiction pet peeve, though, as much as I just have genres I don’t enjoy.

rem:  Oh yes!!! I cannot stand hokey dialogue!!! (ps – I’m aces with dialogue!! #winkwink) What are you reading right now?

MIKAL :  I’m reading the Summer of Suspense novella collection. So far, it’s great! I’ve been on a suspense kick for many months now, so I’m hoping once I’m finished with this collection, I’ll be ready to dive into something else…I actually have time travel up on my Kindle Unlimited, ready to go. When I’m doing housework or driving in the car by myself, I’m listening to Fearless by Tamara Leigh. She’s the QUEEN of medieval!!

 

rem:  I can’t do audio books—my mind wanders too much… BUT I have recently discovered Tamara Leigh!!! #hangsheadinshame  She instantly became a favorite author! Your blog is like mine—I see a lot of reviews! I won’t ask your favorite… so I’ll ask if you’ve ever read one ya just can’t! Without naming names, can you tell us how did you handle the review?

MIKAL :  Eep! Um, yes. I definitely have. There are two that come to mind. One was sent to me in the mail with no warning. (rem: YIKES! I’d never heard of the author before, but the book was labeled as Christian fiction according to the publisher note included with it. When I started reading it…um…no. No, it wasn’t Christian. Yikes! I reached out to a dear friend and asked her about it. She’d also received the book to review and confirmed it definitely wasn’t Christian. Because I hadn’t agreed to review it, I just set it aside and never finished it.

Another book I agreed to review but didn’t like, I contacted the publisher. I’ll go ahead and leave negative reviews on bookseller sites, but when it comes to my actual blog, I typically only post reviews of books I’ve enjoyed, or can at least find something in there I know others will enjoy.

rem:  That’s wise. It’s so so hard to write a negative review, isn’t it?  Let’s go for it—I dare ya to tell us your favorite book(s) / author(s) that you’ve reviewed.

MIKAL :  Ha!!! This is actually no secret! I have author crushes on Ronie Kendig, Tamara Leigh, Sarah Monzon, Jennifer Rodewald, Ted Dekker, and Tosca Lee! There are so many others I love, but these authors have, in one way or another, really impacted me.

rem:  Or, as Tosca said when I interviewed her, “Are you trying to get me killed?”  LOL Those are some stellar names you chose!  You juggle a lot of plates—admin assistant, Tae Kwon Do mom, football mom, figure skating mom, assistant to authors near and far AND author of adorable stories (and answering interview questions)—what’s the hardest role? And how do you balance them all?

MIKAL :  Well thankfully the TKD and football mum in me has left the field and turned into a rock climbing mum. J The hardest role is definitely being a mum (and wife!) and fitting everything into a schedule. I’ll be honest and say that the first thing to suffer is writing—my family will always be my priority. (rem: as it should be.)It’s why it’s taking so long to get my next full-length novel out into the world! (That, and the characters just haven’t been cooperating until recently!) As for balancing it all…I burn a lot of dinners, but I give (and get!) a lot of hugs. And my boss is very understanding of the writing call on my life, so we just last week rearranged my work schedule so I only work four days a week and have one full day to write while the kids are in school. It’s amazing!

rem:  Amazing indeed! Such a blessing to have people in your life who support the calling to write! What made you decide to go Indie?

MIKAL :  Honestly, part of it was fear. Fear that a publisher would think I was terrible! But when it really came down to it, I just wanted to be able to write what I wanted, when I wanted to. I don’t love the marketing part of it, but having complete creative control of the story, covers, schedule, etc., really makes it all worth it.

rem:  As an Indie from the beginning, I have to agree. I have days I struggle to function at all, and would really stress if I was facing a deadline I couldn’t meet… Dat marketing doh… OY!  What is one thing you wish readers understood about authors?

MIKAL :  Both indie and traditionally published authors really don’t make much money. Especially when you consider how long it takes to write a book, and the investment that goes into editing, cover design, marketing, etc. Most authors I know work outside of writing, whether it’s for a company, or they do editing or cover design on their own for clients. But for most of us, writing isn’t a job—it’s a ministry and passion. The money just helps us to keep writing.

 

rem:  Ain’t it the truth!  Tell us a little about your writing journey.

MIKAL :  It all started one December evening after Christmas in 1974 when I was born. Ha!! (rem: Oh, I do love the way you think! #kindredspirits)  But seriously, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I wrote little stories as a young child, poetry in high school and Bible college, then I took a break for several years. And I mean several. It wasn’t until 2015/16 that I really got serious about writing when I was in a writing class and a story idea came to mind that someone said she’d read. Count Me In was born! Since then, I slowly plug away at writing, often dreaming of retiring (after just one book and now two novellas—one is released and one is about to release in October). LOL! I know, I know. Thankfully, I have family and friends who slap me upside the head every time I mention that “r” word.

rem:  It’s good to dream, though! Isn’t it? What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

MIKAL :  1. Get into a critique group!! When I first started, I had a crit group of three other ladies. One was already a published author, and the other three of us were in different stages of starting out. We learned a lot not just from having our own work critiqued, but from critiquing the works of the others. It’s critical to get that feedback!

  1. Read stories in the genre you want to write! Study those authors who are successful to see what they’re doing when it comes to pacing, characterization, story arc, etc. Don’t read just to read, read to learn the mechanics.
  2. Attend writing conferences. That’s where networking will really go deep. You’ll want to network with other authors online, reading their stories and interacting with them on their social media sites, but going to a conference and meeting in person, along with attending classes at those conferences, is invaluable.

Three things to not do? Connect with an author you don’t know well and immediately invite them to like your social media pages. That’s just…please don’t. Don’t submit your stories to a contest without first having feedback from honest and talented critique partners. And don’t submit your stories to a publisher without investing in an editor!!

rem:  Such wisdom. How do you choose your characters’ names?

MIKAL :  Oh, fun question! For Count Me In, I chose Allegra’s name by how I wanted her to grow and what I wanted her to be like by the end of the story. Allegra means “joyful, lively.” She sure wasn’t that way in the beginning of the story. 😉 For Tyler, it really was more of a name that just seemed to fit with Allegra. The rest of my characters have been along that same line. I look at the meaning, though, and if I don’t like the meaning, it ruins the name for me.

rem:  Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

MIKAL :  Oh, how I WISH!!! No. No, I don’t. I often know the beginning (but not always), rarely do I know the middle, but I do always know the end. Sometimes the end will adjust some based on what comes out during the story, but no. I’m a pantser—there’s little to no plotting involved.

rem:  Again with the kindred spirit…  Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

MIKAL :  I actually just finished it! It’s a Christmas novella based on the story of Mulan. I don’t think it’s as “laugh out loud” as my other stories, but I hope the reader still finds it amusing and charming. As for my current project, I’m picking back up with Bo and Story, side characters from Count Me In. They should have had their story out two years ago, but they’re stubborn, prideful characters. For a while, they were so troublesome, I switched over to Caprice’s story (Allegra’s sister), but Bo and Story are starting to share more with me, so I’m hoping to stick to my original plan and have their story out next.

rem:  I loved Count Me In, and can’t wait for the next book!  What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

MIKAL :  I’ve always loved the story of Mulan and her quiet strength. Retelling it to fit my brand wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, though, and I think that makes it that much more special to me. That, and I love Christmas! As for why you should read it, well…it’s in a collection with four other Christmas novellas that are fairy tale retellings, and I think you’ll love them all!

rem:  Collections are so much fun! Please give us the first page of the book.

MIKAL :

Huang Li Na peered out the window that exchanged Denver snow with Seattle drizzle and eyed the worker bees on the ground, driving around their carts, pushing planes, and waving those glow stick things like they were doing the Macarena. There was no going back now.

“Welcome to Seattle, where it’s a depressing thirty-three degrees Fahrenheit and no snow to show for it. As our Captain James putspedal to the metal to get you to our gate in record-time, please remember to check the overhead bins for your belongings. If you forget anything, please make sure it’s something of value that we’ll be happy to take home or sell for a tidy profit. As always, thank you for flying Northwest Airlines, where we’re happy to take you for a ride.”

Laughter rang throughout the plane, but Li wasn’t having it. She couldn’t believe she was actually doing this. And she could only imagine what her father was thinking right now. She glanced at the silver watch on her left wrist. Yep, he was likely awake and beside himself.

She was beside herself. While she was prepared for this by taking the uniform bar exam as her father had, enabling her to practice law in both Colorado and Washington, impersonating another lawyer could ruin any chance of a career she might have imagined.

Psh. Could? It would, if she was found out. And as her mother always said, “Concealing the truth is like wearing embroidered clothes and traveling by night.”

Yeah. She had no idea what that meant, but she loved remembering her mother’s voice. Let’s just hope she wouldn’t also have to work to remember her father’s voice just yet.

Cancer. She shuddered as she unbuckled the seat belt and stood.

Her chest rose as she swallowed a deep breath. No sense in dwelling on what might happen when she had a big job ahead of her.

 

rem:  I’m not crying, you’re crying…  What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

MIKAL :  We all have struggles, we’ve all been dishonest. My prayer is that we would find the forgiveness we need to heal from that.

rem:  Why is it harder to forgive ourselves than the rest of the world?  Anything you’d like to add?

MIKAL :  I just want to thank you so much for having me here again, Robin!! It’s always such a pleasure to pop in, and your interviews are some of the most in-depth and enjoyable ones!

rem:  Mikal, thank you so much! Your words mean the world to me! Thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today—and pop back any time!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mikal Dawn is an inspirational romance author, wedding enthusiast, and proud military wife. By day, she works as an administrative assistant for an international ministry, serves in her church’s library, runs her kids to all their sports, and drinks lots of coffee. By night, she talks to figments of her imagination as she attempts to write while dinner is burning. And drinks lots of coffee. When she isn’t writing about faith, fun, and forever, she is obsessively scouring Pinterest (with coffee in hand, of course!) for wedding ideas for her characters.

Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Mikal now lives in Oklahoma with her husband, two of their three children, and one ferocious feline.

 

https://mikaldawn.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Mikal-Dawn/e/B071NGN8D5

https://www.facebook.com/mikaldawnauthor/

https://twitter.com/MikalDawn/

https://www.instagram.com/mikaldawn/

https://www.pinterest.com/mikal_dawn/

 

GIVEAWAY

Mikal is offering an e-copy of Once Upon a Christmas Collection.

Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway will begin at 12:oo A.M. on Thursday 29 August and end at 12:oo A.M  on Thursday 5 September. Giveaway is subject to the policies found on Robin’s Nest.

RAFFLECOPTER

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE

“Enter the Psalms. They refocus me, give me hope, peace. They give me joy. I think more on the Lord. I speak with Him more. I’m more relaxed and less irritable.”

 

#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview and Giveaway, Mikal Dawn

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BLOGWORDS – Thursday 22 August 2019 – CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – HOPE TOLER DOUGHERTY – GIVEAWAY WINNER

CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – HOPE TOLER DOUGHERTY – GIVEAWAY WINNER

“Trading guilt and misery for God’s grace and mercy.”

 

“I don’t present the Gospel message in my books, but God is evident throughout the stories. My characters struggle with everyday problems, pray to and receive strength and wisdom from a loving God.”

 

WINNER! WINNER!

 

Congratulations to

LUCY REYNOLDS

Hope will be in touch with you to send your gift!

Thanks to everyone who entered!

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hope Toler Dougherty holds a Master’s degree in English and taught at East Carolina University and York Technical College. Her publications include three novels, Irish Encounter and Mars…With Venus Rising, and Rescued Hearts as well as nonfiction articles. A member of ACFW, RWA, and SinC, she and her husband live in North Carolina and enjoy visits with their two daughters and twin sons. Visit her at hopetolerdougherty.com.

 

https://hopetolerdougherty.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Hope-Toler-Dougherty/e/B00X62XX7Q

https://www.facebook.com/AUTHORHOPETOLERDOUGHERTY/

https://www.instagram.com/hopetolerdougherty/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/hope-toler-dougherty-20097834/

https://www.pinterest.com/hopetdougherty/

https://twitter.com/hopetdougherty

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13941031.Hope_Dougherty

 

 

“Sometimes the writer’s life borders on the lonely side–unless you count spending time with imaginary characters, that is…   Spending time with other writers, especially Christian writers, is always such an encouragement, and spending that time at a beach (with lots of chocolate)? All the better!”

 

GIVEAWAY

Hope is offering an e-copy of Rescued Hearts, or a print copy to a U.S. reader.

“Can I worship in jeans or shorts or pajamas? Yes.

Have I done it? Yes—beside Niagara Falls, around a campfire, at my desk. The Red Rock State Park in Arizona brought me to tears contemplating our Creator.”

 

 

#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Hope Toler Dougherty, Giveaway Winner, #WINNER

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BLOGWORDS – Thursday 22 August 2019 – CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – JOANNA DAVIDSON POLITANO

CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – JOANNA DAVIDSON POLITANO

“I really love story. Especially from people overlooked or undervalued by the world.”

“Prayer is amazingly powerful, and I’m a serious prayer warrior.”

 

Please join me in giving a feathered welcome to Joanna Davidson Politano.

 

FAST FAVES

Cake or Cookies ALL OF THE ABOVE

Dogs or Cats  I am an equal opportunity stray adopter ❤

Yoga Pants or Jeans  I’ve always been a jeans girl, but yoga pants are becoming a staple in the homeschooling days at home!

 

rem:  Hullo Joanna, and welcome to my little nest! Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

JOANNA:  I’ve always lived in the Chicago area, from the northern suburbs to the city itself. Now I live over the border in Indiana, and I LOVE the country! Especially living in the woods with so much nature around us. I worked as a medical writer for years, then in nonfiction publishing, and now I’m pursuing homeschool teaching with writing novels as a side hobby.

rem:  I love being in the woods, surrounded by nature—not so sure about living way out in the country…  Tell us three random things about yourself no one knows.

JOANNA:  1. I gave birth twice without medication, with the help of some Scripture (see upcoming question!) and I’m a pain wimp.

  1. I own (and often refer back to) over 4,000 books, and 1,800 on Kindle
  2. I once dove off a 40 foot cliff while white water rafting—and bellyflopped.

rem:  1.  Yeeps / Awsome! 2. Holy Moly Batman, that’s a LOTTA books! And 3. Ouch, just ouch!  Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

JOANNA:  I really like the book of Isaiah for the full picture it gives us of God’s character—all sides of it. (rem: too many people, I think, dismiss the Old Testament as irrelevant… )  Favorite verse—either Matthew 6:33, which is my life verse, (But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you) or the verses in Isaiah 43 that talk about God being with us through the fire and flood. I recited those when having both my kids, and they are precious verses to me.

rem:  It’s so subtle, isn’t it? Such a “simple” thing to do, and yet so overlooked—to seek Him first, to walk in His ways and will… What is your favourite quotation and why?

JOANNA:  I think you’ll find my heart somewhere between “Not all who wander are lost” and “be kind, for everyone you meet is facing some kind of battle.”  Also, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” There are so many quotes I adore—Especially from Mother Teresa. I could make a quote board just from her.

rem:  Hmmm… mayhap, we wander to meet someone who is facing some kind of battle for a reason—to do some small thing with great love… What’s the most random thing in your bag or on your desk?

JOANNA:  Probably a half-finished sucker that I wrapped up and was ordered not to throw away… because I promised to return it to the owner when she finished some vegetables. That has not yet happened.

rem:  Such a mom-of-small-kids thing!! ha!  If you could spend an evening with a fictional character, who would it be and why?

JOANNA:  Emily of New Moon! I feel like we’re kindred spirits. Or…. Maybe Aslan.

 

rem:  Haven’t met Emily of New Moon, but I’d adore the chance to spend a day (or longer) with Aslan!  What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

JOANNA:  Oh goodness, this is a huge question, and a great one to ask. Christian fiction has the ability to, like Jesus’ stories, convey truth in a deeper, more memorable way than simply stating it. Stories trigger and excite something in our brains, and we interact with the truth in a much bigger way. How as it impacted my relationship? Well, that could take hours. To be honest, it’s become a sacred time of connection with God that is more personal to me than any other way almost. I ask Him questions, and we untangle the answer together as I write, and I come away with a lovely duet to remember our time together.

rem:  Oohhh! I love that—lovely duet!! And yes, it does become a sacred time, when it’s just us and Him, collaborating to create a story. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

JOANNA:  I think all my favorites in a story can be encapsulated in one word—authenticity. This applies to the characters, and to the layers the writer was willing to peel back while writing. I love when someone enters vulnerably into a story to discover, rather than setting out to give a lesson.

rem:  So true. Stories that aren’t authentic are like a balloon—they might bob in the wind for a short while, but in the test of time they don’t hold up. What are you reading right now?

JOANNA:  A Night at the Opera by Stacy Henrie and Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin (one electronic, one hard copy)

 

rem:  And both sound quite intriguing. I particularly loved a post on your blog from April of this year, Going Deeper—A Vineyard Study. Tell us about that.

JOANNA:  This came about from some readers who enjoyed “A Rumored Fortune,” my second book, and asked me to walk readers through the vineyard research I did that had such spiritual depth. That research completely changed me during the writing of the most stubborn novel to date. I had such a rough go of it with that novel, but God used that desperation to draw me to him. (rem: THIS right here gives me such hope for my current WIP! I have not had such a struggle with any of my other stories!)And it was glorious. He gently taught me, through vineyard research, what it meant to connect to the True Vine, and just how vital it was for life—despite how healthy an unconnected branch might appear.

rem:  And now I must dig deeper into this myself. You have such a powerful ministry of hope. What inspired your post (May 2016) on Broken Glass?

JOANNA:  Thank you! I am glad to offer the hope I was given myself. I’m not sure there’s a specific incident that inspired that blog post, but as my own life story has unfolded, I’ve watched God take shattered pieces of me that I didn’t even know how to get rid of, or what to do with, and he redeemed them the way a friend of mine remakes old furniture into something chic and modern. He took broken shards, infused them with color, and put them together into a stunning piece of art that actually formed an entire picture when you stepped back to look—then He shone through it Himself, and you realize everything you are, even the broken pieces, are redeemed and affixed into a story… for HIS glory. And it’s stunning.

rem:  Yes and Amen! There’s just not any other fitting response! You also have a powerful prayer ministry. Can you share with us one of the most inspiring results or miracles you’ve seen?

JOANNA:  Honestly, I seldom hear the result of my prayers, because most of the people I pray for are strangers who have requested prayer through my site. One of the small but memorable ones in my personal life was when I went apple picking once with a guy I’d been dating. This was the hugest orchard in the state, and we were out there picking for hours. When we came into the store to pay, I realized I’d dropped my car key, which wasn’t even on a ring, somewhere out in the orchard. It was now dark. I had no other key, and I needed my car to get to work the next day—not to mention getting home that night. I talked to God about it, and I walked out through the orchard, through the rows, and directly to the key under a tree that looked like all the rest. To this day, I have no idea how it happened, but I do know the guy I was dating, who had been wrestling with his faith, turned a huge corner that day. And now I’m married to him.

rem:  I love love love those seeming “random” moments, moments that might seem like coincidence—but are truly a Divine touch or whisper!  I love how you equate everyday life to stories, and how they help “untangle and understand” the world. How does this show up in your stories?

JOANNA:  Oh this is my favorite thing about writing. So many simple moments have deep undercurrents that all point back to Scripture. I often ask God big questions when I sit down to write, and they play out in very simple character arcs or actions within the book. For example, the heroine in my first book had such trouble fitting into the family she’d just discovered. She tried so many ways and couldn’t understand why she didn’t, until she realized they were broken and unhappy people—and it was perfectly ok to not fit in with them. In the same way, we often feel at odds in this world when we really follow Jesus, and that’s perfectly all right too—because this is a sinful world and we’re not meant to stay forever. The vineyard symbolism in my second book was amazing to me—the heroine has to learn about how vineyards work and it underscores everything the Bible says about connecting to God—connection had been a longing of her heart, and understanding the vines helped her understand the larger questions about connecting.

rem:  Oh my goodness!!! Not fitting in has been my personal agony—and delight—for as long as I can remember. Only now I know why I don’t fit in…  Tell us a little about your writing journey.

JOANNA:  I’ve been writing for years, and when I started writing novels and actually submitting them, I got nothing but rejections or silence. I was discouraged, but then babies came into the picture. I decided to set aside writing and raise my family, maybe going back to it later. That was about when I realized I hadn’t even asked God. When I did, I found out He had other ideas. I said ok, and took a redeye flight to a conference, stayed about 24 hours, and took another redeye back to my baby. On that trip, I received three offers from agents, and when I chose an agent we got three offers from publishers. What a stark difference from my timing and God’s! The biggest, coolest part of my writing journey, though, is simply the practice of connecting with God. It’s the language we speak, and the way I untangle things I don’t understand.

 

rem:  Oh how we, as humans, fight and buck His timing—only to discover how truly He does know best! What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

JOANNA:

Top three recommendations:

  1. If you’re not getting traction, or you’re stuck, write a novel purely for fun—every little thing you enjoy in a story, whatever length or mix of genres. No rules, no expectations. That’s more likely to be your success story than endless striving! Rules are important—learn them, but don’t be tied to them so much that you forget the joy of writing.
  2. Trust God. Seriously, it sounds simple, but those two words are really hard to live out at times. Keep in mind, though, that the same God who parted the sea can do anything He wants in your story—and He delights in the impossible.
  3. Connect with friends of the heart. Get to know some other writers, or just people who love books, and have lots of conversations. Show them your work. Respect their feedback, but not above God’s.

Top three things not to do:

  1. Strive—or write anything in your own strength
  2. Compare—If God wants you writing, there’s a hole out there the exact shape of your story.
  3. Lose yourself—fictional worlds are wonderful and mind-expanding, but don’t ever lose sight of the real people for the imaginary ones.

 

rem:  Such wisdom, Joanna. How do you choose your characters’ names?

JOANNA:  After reading lots of Victorian literature over the years, I have a sense of what names were used then, and I go hunting through baby name books! Often I narrow down the choices by a name’s meaning, because meanings are important.

rem:  Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

JOANNA:  Oh sure, but then it changes! I never plot out an entire book before starting, but I have some general ideas. Those always change, though.

rem:  So much yes!! My non-writer friends just don’t get it when I say, “They [my characters] told me thus and such!” LOL  Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

JOANNA:  My newly released book, Finding Lady Enderly, is a rags-to-riches story about a lost countess, and the rag woman who temporarily steps in to take her place. There’s a great romance thread that weaves classic literature through it, which was so fun to write! My current project is a novel about a lost love letter that’s discovered years after it was written, and the impact it has on the finder and an entire household.

rem:  Shameful confession: I have not yet read your books… #hangshead  They sound so wonderful and intriguing, though, and they definitely are on my TBR list…  What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

JOANNA:  Oh, the love story! It was so wonderfully unique and fun to create. It was a challenge, but it ended up becoming one of my favorites. There isn’t the usual will they/won’t they or things like that keeping them apart, and the hurdles they face are fun to play with. The way they overcome their hurdles, though is just so fun. The romance wove perfectly into the twists of the story—which were the most twisty I’ve written to date.

rem:  Please give us the first page of the book.

 

Chapter 1

I do not truly wish for all my dreams to come true. After all, nightmares are one type of dream.

~Diary of a Countess

 

Spitalfields, London’s East End, 1871

For one blessed moment I was actually beautiful. I rested one smudged hand on the bodice of the luscious gown given to me by Mrs. J. B. Hollingsworth and waltzed like a princess down Church Street, the little jeweled shoes twinkling in the moonlight as I lifted my hem and spun on the broken cobblestones. Gowns had a sort of magic hemmed into their cloth, enough to change a girl’s heart just by the wearing of them.

I paused under the flickering gaslights to glimpse my reflection in a window, gasping at the vision of loveliness framed on the grimy pane of Bryn and Saunders Textiles. I twirled my hair up and looked with wonder at the whole of me—shapely, trim, and utterly feminine. For the first time in my life, my willowy body was fitted in a garment with shape and form.

Mercy gracious, I looked like a normal girl.

rem:  How lovely! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

JOANNA:  It’s so easy to become defined by circumstances, or changeable elements, and we often never understand the core of who we are. So much can be changed—our friends, our job, our economic status or marital status. Yet there’s something in our nature that makes us uniquely who we are—and it points to our purpose. What defines us, and why do we let it? What is truly at the core of us? The heroine wrestles with her identity as she peels back and discards many layers of who she was to become someone else, realizing much about herself and her Creator.

rem:  Oh, Joanna, you have hit on exactly what my life used to be! But God… Thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!

JOANNA:  It was my pleasure!

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joanna Davidson Politano writes historical novels of mystery and romance, including her debut Lady Jayne Disappears. She loves tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives and is eager to hear anyone’s story. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and you can find her at

 

http://jdpstories.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Joanna-Davidson-Politano/e/B06WVQRFDC

https://www.facebook.com/joannadavidsonpolitano/

https://twitter.com/politano_joanna

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16355029.Joanna_Davidson_Politano

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/joanna-davidson-politano

 

 

 “[Stories] are not an escape from the world, but a way to untangle and understand it.”

“Because in truth, no one wants their life to be invisible or forgotten.”

#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Joanna Politano

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BLOGWORDS – Thursday 15 August 2019 – CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – VIKKI KESTELL – GIVEAWAY WINNERS

 

CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – VIKKI KESTELL – GIVEAWAY WINNERS

“Faith Filled Fiction”

 

“Writing is the best job ever… and the most demanding.”

 

WINNER! WINNER!

 

Congratulations to

BRANDI DAGWAN

 and

TONYA HAMILTON

 and

ASHLEY SAPP

 and

DYAN LYNESS

Vikki will be in touch with you to send your gift!

Thanks to everyone who entered!

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vikki Kestell’s passion for people and their stories is evident in her readers’ affection for her characters and unusual plotlines. Two often-repeated sentiments are, “I feel like I know these people,” and “I am right there, in the book, experiencing what her characters experience.”

Vikki holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Learning and Instructional Technologies. She left a career of twenty-plus years in government, academia, and corporate life to pursue writing full time. “Writing is the best job ever,” she admits, “and the most demanding.”

Also an accomplished speaker and teacher, Vikki and her husband Conrad Smith make their home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

 

http://vikkikestell.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Vikki-Kestell/e/B007OLYM0M

https://www.facebook.com/TheWritingOfVikkiKestell

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/vikki-kestell

https://twitter.com/FaithFilledFic

 

 

“A genre to me is more the setting than the objective. My characters are real to me. I could put them in any genre and they would thrive..”

GIVEAWAY

Vikki is offering five free Kindle copies of Laynie Portland Spy Rising.

 

#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Vikki Kestell, Giveaway Winners, #WINNERS

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BLOGWORDS – Thursday 15 August 2019 – CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – HOPE TOLER DOUGHERTY

CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – HOPE TOLER DOUGHERTY

“Trading guilt and misery for God’s grace and mercy.”

 

“I don’t present the Gospel message in my books, but God is evident throughout the stories. My characters struggle with everyday problems, pray to and receive strength and wisdom from a loving God.”

 

Please join me in giving a feathered welcome to Hope Toler Dougherty.

 

FAST FAVES

Cake or Cookies

Facebook or Twitter

Paperback or Kindle

Thornton or Darcy

 

rem:  Hullo, Hope, and welcome to my little nest. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

HOPE:  I was born in North Carolina. I lived in Pittsburgh, PA, with my husband and family for 14 years before moving back to NC in 2004. We built a house on land my great-grandfather owned.

rem:  Oh, I love that—living in a family home! Tell us three random things about yourself no one knows.

HOPE:  I would love to play the banjo in a Bluegrass band. Teenagers scare me. I would love to work in radio.

rem:  Teenagers are scary creatures!! And Bluegrass is such fun music! Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

HOPE:  One of my favorites is Ephesians 3:20 [God] is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.” God is big, and He knows what’s best for us.

rem:  Oh, yes, ma’am, He surely is and does! What is your favourite quotation and why?

HOPE:  I’m not sure the author of this quotation, but I really like it. “Amazing things happen on the other side of fear.” Too often we miss things because fear holds us back. I’m trying not to let that be my legacy.

rem:  And how sad it is when we let fear hold us back from the good things Father God has for us! What’s the most random thing in your bag or on your desk?

HOPE:  A ball of cotton yarn and a crochet hook. I like making wash cloths to give people if I’m stuck in a meeting.

rem:  How fun is that! I used to crochet but haven’t in an age! If you could spend an evening with a fictional character, who would it be and why?

HOPE: Jane Eyre!! She’s so fearless. She’s so confident in who she is and what she believes.

 

rem:  Great choice! Take me with you. What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

HOPE: Christian fiction has a purpose beyond simple entertainment. CF offers hope which is what God offers us. My relationship with Jesus Christ is more mature. He’s taught me so much about Himself as well as about myself.

rem:  I love how the two intertwine—our writing and our identity in Him. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

HOPE:  Preachiness. (rem:AMEN SISTER!)  Boring dialog. Sloppy editing—when something happens on Saturday in one chapter and it’s Sunday in the next, when gas logs are mentioned in one chapter and ashes in the fireplace are described in the next.

rem:  Yes, yes, yes!! Drives me batty! (and yes, my inner editor goes bonkers, looking to see if I missed a clue or reason it would change… )  What are you reading right now?

HOPE:  I just finished The Wife Between Us for our book club. I also read Educated and Where the Crawdads Sing this summer. I’m looking forward to reading Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer, but I have tons more on my bedside table, on the floor beside my bed, on my desk, on the floor beside my desk…

rem:  Oh, so your TBR is about like mine… You flew a plane!! I may or may not be insanely jealous! (I am! hee hee)  Tell us about that experience.

HOPE:  While I was single, I decided to take flying lessons. I loved the experience and soloed a Cessna 150 a few times, but I never earned my pilot’s license. So much math, and science, and physics!

rem:  Well darn! That would have done it for me too! As a speaker, what topics do you present? What is your favorite?

HOPE:  I’ve spoken on God’s gifts and lessons from my writing journey, different aspects of writing a novel, the idea of changing career paths, the inspiration behind each of my novels. I can adapt my presentation to the audience. I’m not sure I have a favorite topic. I just love interacting with audiences.

rem:  One day, I’d love to attend one of your presentations. In a blog post titled, “Doing the Hard Things… Again,” (25 June 2018) you quoted, “If children don’t learn to do difficult things while they’re growing up, how will they do hard things when they’re adults?” I so, so agree with this. What does this quote mean to you and how do we implement it in the lives of our children?

HOPE:  First of all, thanks for reading some of my posts! That one is one of my favorites, by the way. We live in a fallen world, so life is hard. We’re not preparing our children for real life if we rake every stone from their path. Parents teach grit by making children honor a commitment to a team by finishing the season, by writing thank you notes, by taking swim lessons even if the water is cold, by apologizing if they’ve messed up, by speaking to the college professor if they’ve bombed an exam. Parents then encourage, support, and pray for them.

rem:  I love your answer as much as I loved the original post. (and it was my pleasure reading through [some of] your past posts!)  I read your post about the inspiration for Rescued Hearts. What are the “what if” moments for an author?

HOPE: The “what ifs” are ideas that float into my mind, and I begin wondering. They help me contemplate possibilities.

 

rem:  The most powerful tool in an author’s arsenal! #winkwink  Tell us a little about your writing journey.

HOPE:  I’ve always enjoyed writing and sporadically published non-fiction pieces but never wrote fiction because I didn’t think I could. In 2009 when our oldest daughter prepared to leave our nest (!), a daydream about Ireland came to me and wouldn’t go away. I started writing Irish Encounter then, began attended writing conferences and started writing a new project, met my agent in 2013, signed contracts in 2014, and had two books published in 2015.

rem:  So literally, your dream came true! Fictionally speaking… What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

HOPE:  1. Read all kinds of books, especially the genre you want to write and also writing craft books. 2. Write every day. 3. Attend writing conferences to take classes and to meet other writers. (And for a bonus one—PRAY!) 1. Don’t compare yourself with other writers. God blesses people differently. 2. Don’t let discouragement derail your dreams.  3. Don’t give up.

rem:  YES to pray for one another. OUCH to write every day… (I’ve had a rough spell for a long while… )  How do you choose your characters’ names?

HOPE:  Naming is such a hard thing for me. My family sometimes took weeks to name a pet! I have a baby name book, and I sometimes try out several names before I choose the right one. I think about the character’s age and the possible reasons behind a name.

rem:  Oh my! I’m totally the opposite—usually, though not always, when I meet a character I know their name! Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

HOPE:  No. I try to fill out character sketches as much as I can before I begin, but I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer. I like being surprised at my laptop.

rem:  With my first novel I just sat and wrote… Seven books in, I now have reams of notes on who’s who and who likes what, etc. Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

HOPE:  My fourth manuscript is under contract for a May, 2020, release. (rem:YAY)  It’s the story of Josie and Ches…A college professor is good at nurturing. An attorney is good at keeping secrets. When their lives intersect, sparks fly, changing hearts and lives forever.

rem:  What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

HOPE:  I love the texting scenes between Josie and Ches and the sibling interaction with Josie and her three brothers I explored the idea of emotional affairs in this story. With the ease of finding old boyfriends and girlfriends on the Internet today, we need to be aware of and discuss emotion affairs.

rem:  You are so right! So often we forget about the emotional connection when the official relationship ends.  Please give us the first page of the book.

 

HOPE:

            Josie Daniels blew a hot breath into the neck of her white collared shirt, desperate for any kind of breeze. Summer heat in Charlotte wilted tough people in billowy seersucker. Her Park ‘n Go uniform, navy blue chino pants and an oxford cloth button-down, could stifle the hardiest of constitutions. She wiped a final sweep across the headlight of an SUV, and Kenny, her co-worker, grabbed her attention.

            “Hey, Josie.” He nodded to the car eating up the entrance ramp. “Your turn.”

            A new Lexus Sport Coupe prowled through the parking lot just this side of speeding and jerked to a stop in front of her. Leaving the car idling, the driver jumped out and motioned to her. “Get in. I’ll be back.”

            Nice manners. But accompanying travelers up to the drop off and driving their cars back to park them for the duration of the trip was her extra job for the summer, so she’d work hard to tamp down any miffed feelings.

            The air conditioner, blowing at full blast, chilled the sheen of perspiration on her face. Sitting in rich cars with icy air added to the perks of working at the Park ‘n Go. Every business person who dressed in several layers, long sleeves, and long pants despite the heat had to keep the A/C pumping all the time.

            What a sweet ride. Leather seats, of course. Still smelled new, for heaven’s sake. A bottle of ibuprofen in a cupholder. Interesting. A screen in the middle of the dashboard. Cool.

            Her brothers would choke when she told them she drove a brand new—

            The driver slid into the seat and buckled the seat belt. A light fragrance of a pleasant aftershave wafted her way. Score one point for not wearing an obnoxious amount of cologne. Good job, Mr. Hot Shot Something.

 

rem:  Oh what a fun scene! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

HOPE:  God is big, and His plan for us is always better than our plan. In the middle of God’s will is the best place to be. When I pray for the safety of my family every day, I also pray that we stay in God’s will.

rem:  Couldn’t agree with you more! Anything you’d like to add?

HOPE:  Thanks for having me on your blog. You asked some interesting questions!

rem:  My pleasure, Hope. Happy to have you visit my little nest!

 

https://hopetolerdougherty.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Hope-Toler-Dougherty/e/B00X62XX7Q

https://www.facebook.com/AUTHORHOPETOLERDOUGHERTY/

https://www.instagram.com/hopetolerdougherty/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/hope-toler-dougherty-20097834/

https://www.pinterest.com/hopetdougherty/

https://twitter.com/hopetdougherty

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13941031.Hope_Dougherty

 

 

“Sometimes the writer’s life borders on the lonely side–unless you count spending time with imaginary characters, that is…   Spending time with other writers, especially Christian writers, is always such an encouragement, and spending that time at a beach (with lots of chocolate)? All the better!”

 

GIVEAWAY

Hope is offering an e-copy of Rescued Hearts, or a print copy to a U.S. reader.

Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway will begin at 12:oo A.M. on Thursday 15 August and end at 12:oo A.M  on Thursday 22 August. Giveaway is subject to the policies found on Robin’s Nest.

RAFFLECOPTER

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE

“Can I worship in jeans or shorts or pajamas? Yes.

Have I done it? Yes—beside Niagara Falls, around a campfire, at my desk. The Red Rock State Park in Arizona brought me to tears contemplating our Creator.”

 

 

#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview and Giveaway, Hope Toler Dougherty

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BLOGWORDS – Thursday 8 August 2019 – CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY – VIKKI KESTELL

 

CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY – VIKKI KESTELL

“Faith Filled Fiction”

“Writing is the best job ever… and the most demanding.”

Please join me in giving a feathered welcome to Vikki Kestell.

 

FAST FAVES

Call or Text 

Eggs or Pancakes 

Facebook or Twitter

Paperback or Kindle

Thornton or Darcy 

Yoga Pants or Jeans

 

rem:  Hullo, Vikki, and welcome to my little nest. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

VIKKI :  Robin, I was born in California but raised in eastern Washington State, where my father worked at Hanford. He took a job at Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico just prior to the start of my senior year of high school, so we moved. It was a pretty traumatic time for me, made difficult for several reasons. I’d just become a Christian in May, and we moved in September. I loved my new Christian friends, and I had a serious love interest at the time, but I had to leave them all behind.

It was also difficult time to move because music was integral to my life, and I was in the high school swing choir, an ensemble for which you had to compete to get a slot. When I arrived in Los Alamos, the alto slots in Chamber Singers (their ensemble comparable to swing choir) was full. Fortunately, they were short on tenors and I had a great low range. I sang tenor all year! (Loved being “one of the guys.”) I formed my own Christian folk band and sang with a high school jazz ensemble, too.

Following high school, I moved back to Washington and lived in the Pacific Northwest until 1991. That’s when I returned to New Mexico to be near family. I have lived in Albuquerque ever since.

 

rem: Ohhh! A fellow ensemble singer! I was, too, both in high school and college. Tell us three random things about yourself no one knows.

VIKKI :  Three things no one knows? Hmm. Thinking.

 

rem:  un huh, I see how it is.  LOL  Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

VIKKI :  My favorite verse is, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6. This has been my life verse for more than 30 years. It spoke (and continues to speak) to my pride and competitive spirit; it taught me to seek the Lord for his plans for my life rather than my own, to be patient, faithful, and diligent, and to leave the “due time” up to him.

 

rem:  It just doesn’t work any other way. But oh! when we humble ourselves before Him—watch out world! Nothing and no one can hold us back. What is your favourite quotation and why?

VIKKI :  Goodness! I’m such a practical dork. I really like, “Let us begin as we mean to go on.” I’m not sure where I picked it up, but it means, (Vikki’s explanation) “Look, if you want things to work a certain way, then you need to establish those expectations from the beginning. Why? Because it’s practically impossible to change people’s behaviors (including your own), if you start [a project, job, relationship, habit] one way and think you can change things later on. Just try it: You’ll have a nasty fight on your hands, and you’ll probably lose.” (Single girls? Are you listening? This applies double to future husbands.)

rem: Such simple (sounding) words, such powerful impact!  What about those three random things no one knows about you?

VIKKI :  Still thinking.

 

rem:  Still waiting… What’s the most random thing in your bag or on your desk?

VIKKI :  Wow. Very telling, because I spend so much time in my office! Well, all my makeup is on my desk (nice and tidy in a basket) because I watch/listen to Joyce Meyer on my computer when I’m putting on my makeup.

 

rem:  That’s just practical, plain and simple—two tasks at once! If you could spend an evening with a fictional character, who would it be and why?

VIKKI :  I’m still trying to come up with the three random things. Good grief. I’m not being very “random,” am I?

rem:  Sounds like you’re very orderly and settled… What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

VIKKI :  In Christian fiction, we have the opportunity to do more than provide clean entertainment. We have the opportunity to share the Gospel in the most organic way—through story telling. With imaginative stories, we can bring Jesus into any and every situation and genre and do it as naturally as breathing.

How has writing CF impacted my relationship with Jesus? The thing is, I taught and wrote Bible studies for years before I wrote fiction, so I rather think it’s the other way around for me: My relationship with Jesus impacts the way I write. (rem: way cool!)  My writing brings biblical truths into my books along with a powerful redemption story. When I’m drafting a storyline, I feel like I’m pulling from the many years I’ve studied God’s word, and I’m relating how I’ve seen him move in my own life.

I will say, though, that my readers have humbled me with their letters, with the reports of how my books have ministered to them. What they say makes me even more careful today than I was, say, last year or the year before, to never approach a day of writing without seeking the Lord’s limitless wisdom, power, anointing, and creativity. My heart is to win as many souls for Jesus with my books as I can, but without his help and inspiration, I’m just a good story teller—and the world is full of good story tellers. What we need are lifelike tales that embody the love, grace, and healing of Jesus.

 

rem:  Tales, not so unlike the parables Jesus told…  When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

VIKKI :  I have a few pet peeves regarding Christian fiction. One is the story with perfect people and a perfect ending. (rem: OH.MY.GOODNESS, YES!)  I love a happy ending as much as the next person (and reading needs to provide an escape from the pressures of life), but I feel that a character who has no real struggles or flaws (and I’m not talking about breaking a nail or superficial physical attributes such as having an overly large nose) can project an unrealistic picture of the Christian life.

 

The truth is, no one is perfect, will ever be perfect in this fallen world, or have a perfect life; the only solution to imperfection is daily, ongoing dependence upon Christ: Lord, in my weakness, you are strong; when I falter, you will not allow me fall. I can do what’s on my plate today because you are with me. Whatever comes, I trust you. You will lead me in paths of righteousness for your Name’s sake.

rem:  Vikki, you are so right. I like stories with characters I can relate to. What are you reading right now?

VIKKI :  I just started Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate last night. So far, so intriguing!

 

rem:  She is one of the many authors who, I fear, I have yet to read…  OY  You hold a Ph.D. in Organizational Learning and Instructional Technologies. Can you tell us what that is?

VIKKI :  I have to laugh. Most people think Organizational Learning means I’ve learned how to organize stuff! LOL, no, that’s not it at all. “Organizations” are human “organisms,” such as businesses, corporations, schools, families, churches, etc. Organizational Learning is the study of how organizations as a whole learn, grow, change, adapt to change, produce, and so on. The Body of Christ is THE greatest organization (human organism) on the face of the planet because it crosses every racial, ethnic, national, social, economic, and gender barrier. We, as the church universal and the church local, can do a better job at helping the whole of the body learn, grow, change, adapt to change, and produce—that is, be fruitful and multiply for Christ.

 

rem:  What?? You mean your desk is a mess like mine??? tee hee hee  Seriously, Vikki, that sounds fascinating. And I agree with you that we, as Christians, can and need to do a much better job of being the body of Christ.  What prompted you to leave your government / corporate career for writing?

VIKKI :  Looking back, I can see God’s hand in it, how he wanted me where I am now. I worked at a Department of Energy school here in Albuquerque and was part of a large RIF (reduction in force). I was a contractor/director at this school, but the pressure and upheaval at that time was so tremendous that I was actually grateful to leave. In the 13 months that followed, I could not find another job (which was unheard of for me), so I began to indie publish. I then worked briefly for a Department of Defense school and wrote a new book during that time. I’d only been at the DOD school eight months when Sequestration budget cuts killed the entire contract my position was on! (rem: OY!)

I was great with the layoff, however, because, by then, my books were starting to take off. I told my husband, Conrad, “I really don’t want to go back to government work. I want to write and see where the Lord takes me.” He said, “Then do it.” (Lord, bless him!) I’ve been writing full-time since the summer of 2013, six years now, and have written 14 full-length novels in addition to the two I’d already published, plus two short stories. I have also published a five-volume Bible study entitled, Growing Up in God, that speaks to various aspects of Christian maturity. Some of the volume titles are “Godly Emotional Maturity” and “How to Belong to a Church—and Love It.”

 

rem:  Vikki, I love love love reading stories like yours, seeing God’s hand in the “uh oh” moments of our lives, directing us where we’d not think to look.  In an older interview, you said you wrote your first book on Commodore 64. Tell us about that experience.

VIKKI :  I actually wrote my first book, A Rose Blooms Twice, longhand, then typed it out on the Commodore. This was 1988, and I’d never touched a computer until then. Well, I found out something interesting: I’m a technophile, that is, I love technology, and I have a natural affinity for computers and software. At this point, I’m probably an MS Word professional and could teach advanced classes, lol! I also do most of my own cover design, having taught myself Photoshop over the past 15 years.

 

rem:  Can’t say I’m so advanced as to teach, but I’m absolutely a technophile and have been since the 60’s when my dad would take me to work with him and let me play with the key punch cards! (Might hit ya up for some Photoshop help in the future… #winkwink )  What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

VIKKI :  Although not an exhaustive list, here are my three top recommendations.

1) Most people have at least one book, one burning message within them. Look inside: Do you have many stories to tell? Be honest. If you’re a one- or two-book person, that’s okay, but understand that to succeed as an independent author/publisher, most authors need to write and publish two or more books a year for at least five years before his or her work “takes off” and garners a readership/following.

2) That recommendation brings me to writing discipline. When you’re writing a book’s first draft, set a daily and a weekly word count goal. Mine is 2,000/daily, six days a week. That’s 12,000 words a week. (Your goals will likely be different than mine.) Are they all “good” words? I’ve found that if I write to a goal, most of what I write fits somewhere—besides, no one can steer a stationary vehicle. Get moving. As you roll along, God will provide the direction.

3) Independent publishing is a big job, and you’ll either wear a lot of hats or need to hire qualified people to help you. The one hat no author can wear or go without, however, is “Proofreader.” Why? because no one sees their own work with clear, objective eyes. The mind inserts what you intended to type, and skips right over typos and missing words. Every author need a good, reliable proofreader. I have two. Greg and Cheryl have been my teammates for five years. I could not do what I’m doing without them or our fellowship. They have become precious friends.

 

Three things would recommend not doing.

1) Writing without prayer

2) Writing without commitment

3) Writing without a self-imposed schedule. (What gets measured, gets done.)

 

rem:  Such good, clear directives. How do you choose your characters’ names?

VIKKI :  Carefully. (Ha ha!) I’m careful not to choose names that begin with the same letter as another character. I pick memorable names that seem to embody the same persona as the character.

rem:  Oh yes, the name has to fit the character! I mean, how do you get on board with a nanny named Brutus?  Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

VIKKI :  Nope. I usually have only vague goals or a few scenes in my head. Along the way, I meet new characters, and they do things I didn’t plan for them to do. I’m often surprised by the direction the story takes and how it ends. Some of my characters are incorrigible!

 

rem:  YES!!! That’s pretty much how I do it, too! Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

VIKKI :  I’ve just published the first two books in my Laynie Portland series, Laynie Portland, Spy Rising, and Laynie Portland, Retired Spy. They came out a month apart, June and July. I wrote Retired Spy first; while I was writing it, I told my team, “I think I should write a little prequel.” Reminds me of that riposte, “It’ll be fun, she said.” Oh, my! That little prequel, Spy Rising, became a 60,000 word novella, while the second book, Retired Spy, burgeoned to 125,000 words. Suffice it to say, I had a very busy January-July! (It’ll be fun, she said? Riiiight!)

rem:  Of COURSE it’ll be fun!!! Isn’t it always? What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

VIKKI :  My books usually (not always, but usually) feature strong female characters who don’t start out as Christians but who encounter God in a powerful way. Spy Rising follows young Laynie as she is recruited by Marstead International, a global technology/aeronautics firm. Marstead is actually a front for a joint U.S./NATO intelligence gathering organization, and they know talent when they see it.

 

Laynie, however, has some deep flaws hidden away in her heart, hidden from Marstead: She and her baby brother were adopted when Laynie was three years old, and Laynie has painful memories of a loss that she cannot recall. During her childhood, she internalized that loss. She took the blame of her biological parents’ absence/abandonment upon herself. As a result, she’s never felt worthy of God’s love. In fact, she considers herself without value or worth. She believes that if the work she does has meaning, then her life won’t be a waste. When Marstead offers her that “important” work, she determines to pass their training—no matter what or how. From the blurb:

 

“This statement is true: No one is born a spy. Laynie’s journey into a life of counterintelligence and espionage required intense training and dedication, but that journey is also a tale of choices, of decisions often made for the wrong reasons and on the basis of faulty belief and rationale. Laynie’s story discloses the inexorable breaking down of moral restraint as the pressure of what she desires overrules what she knows is right . . . when the innocence of her youth is stripped away, and the shape of her destiny is set. Many of us will relate.”

 

rem:  I had one thing in common with Laynie—I didn’t feel worthy of love or anything else from anyone, not even God. What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

VIKKI :  Like the blurb above suggests, we’ve all been guilty of making wrong choices. I think most readers will find themselves shouting at Laynie, “No; don’t do that! It’s a trap, a snare!” and perhaps know the sad outcome of her ill-advised choices.

In Retired Spy, we see an older, “wiser” Laynie, a woman who realizes how far from God she is. And that’s when he begins to work! It’s a heart-pounding, suspenseful read with a few truly unexpected twists. The third book in the series, Renegade Spy, comes out in December.

 

rem:  Isn’t that a component of this life—wrong choices? Regrets? And the golden moment of grace when Father God touches those moments and turns them for our good and His glory.

Anything you’d like to add?

VIKKI :  Robin, I love to hear from new readers! I’d also like to offer five free Kindle copies of Laynie Portland, Spy Rising to your readers.

rem:  Vikki, that’s wonderful! How generous of you! Thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vikki Kestell’s passion for people and their stories is evident in her readers’ affection for her characters and unusual plotlines. Two often-repeated sentiments are, “I feel like I know these people,” and “I am right there, in the book, experiencing what her characters experience.”

Vikki holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Learning and Instructional Technologies. She left a career of twenty-plus years in government, academia, and corporate life to pursue writing full time. “Writing is the best job ever,” she admits, “and the most demanding.”

Also an accomplished speaker and teacher, Vikki and her husband Conrad Smith make their home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

 

http://vikkikestell.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Vikki-Kestell/e/B007OLYM0M

https://www.facebook.com/TheWritingOfVikkiKestell

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/vikki-kestell

https://twitter.com/FaithFilledFic

 

GIVEAWAY

Vikki is offering five (5) free Kindle copies of Laynie Portland Spy Rising.

Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway will begin at 12:oo A.M. on Thursday 8 August and end at 12:oo A.M  on Thursday 15 August. Giveaway is subject to the policies found on Robin’s Nest.

RAFFLECOPTER

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE

“A genre to me is more the setting than the objective. My characters are real to me. I could put them in any genre and they would thrive..”

 

 

#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview and Giveaway, Vikki Kestell

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